9 Illinois metro areas add jobs in March, 6 await pandemic recovery

9 Illinois metro areas add jobs in March, 6 await pandemic recovery

Job gains in Illinois’ metropolitan areas were off to a slow start in 2024. Six areas remain behind where they were before the pandemic.

New data shows 7 of 13 Illinois metro areas added jobs in March 2024, with an overall increase of 10,000 jobs statewide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Cape Girardeau metro, which is only partly in Illinois, area saw the largest percentage increase in non-farm employment, growing 0.43% this past month. Leading the losses was the Peoria area.

State employment growth slightly lagged the national economy. Illinois reported 0.14% more jobs in March, compared to 0.19% growth nationwide.

Employment gains were most heavily concentrated in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro, which added nearly 76 out of every 100 new jobs gained during the past month, or a total of 7,600 jobs.

The Chicago metro area’s rate of gains ranked third among Illinois metro areas from February 2024 to March 2024 and 16th among the 35 largest metro areas in the country.

Overall, nine Illinois metro areas added jobs since March 2023 and seven reported higher employment than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one metro outperformed the U.S. job recovery rate: Bloomington at 7.22%, compared to 4% nationwide.

Illinois employment growth exceeded pre-pandemic levels but trailed the national economy, with the state adding 0.43% more jobs. Six areas continued to report fewer jobs than over four years ago.

Illinois’ sluggish jobs recovery from the pandemic has been further complicated by population loss continuing to hit communities across the state. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Illinois lost 32,826 residents in 2023, marking the state’s 10th consecutive year of population decline.

Historically, high taxes have been the No. 1 reason Illinoisans considered leaving the state. The Illinois Policy Institute’s Lincoln Poll in 2023 substantiated that reason.

Illinois’ state and local tax burden is the highest in the Midwest. Illinois also levies the second-highest state corporate income tax in the nation and the state’s tax code is among the least friendly for businesses in the Midwest.

Recent income tax hikes have already fostered an environment in Illinois that makes it harder for Illinoisans to find work and reduces wage growth prospects for those who are employed. Now Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to cut $45 from each family of four’s state income tax exemption to balance his record $52.7 billion budget. Rising income and property taxes have made housing less affordable in Illinois and reduced returns on housing investment relative to other states.

If Illinois is to meet its potential, state leaders need to stop hamstringing the economy with high taxation and poor public policy. Illinois must focus on strengthening its fiscal positionremoving regulatory burdens, and providing real tax relief both to workers who are already finding it difficult to remain and to job creators who are desperately trying to stay.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!